Q & A – With Ofelia Yánez Writer/Director of “The Good Kind”

Lizzie October 5, 2012 0
Q & A – With Ofelia Yánez Writer/Director of  “The Good Kind”
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http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/990663532/the-good-kind (If you click on the image and website you will be directed to the kickstarter campaign for The Good Kind)

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Whenever I get the chance and have the means to do so, I like to support projects by queer people of color, about queer people of color.  Earlier this summer I had the privilege to read Ofelia Yánez’s script for “The Good Kind.” As I read the script, I remember thinking to myself, oh my god; this is such a great story.  I immediately fell in love with the plot and the characters because I could easily relate, especially with the character of Bianca.

When the kickstarter campaign for The Good Kind (TGK) came out, I jumped on the opportunity to contribute money to the film. I did so, because, it is stories like TGK that not only inspire, but also empower, and save the lives of many young people who struggle with coming to terms with their sexuality.

Ofelia took some time to sit with me and talk about her kickstarter process and film.

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Lizzie:  Tell me about yourself, who is Ofelia Yánez?

 Ofelia: Ofelia Yánez is a dreamer and the epitome of a Capricorn. Lol!  I definitely live up to the description.  Aside from that, I was born in Mexico City and raised in Dallas, Texas. After completing a film degree at The University of North Texas, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. Currently, I’m working as a production coordinator at Canana Films, for the upcoming film Chavez, and I’m also in the process of directing my first short film, which I also wrote. It’s called The Good Kind.

Lizzie: Describe your “ah ha” moment that shaped your decision in wanting to pursue a career in film/writing?

Ofelia:  Okay, this is going to sound awful, but when I was younger I used be left alone a lot so I would watch movies to entertain myself.  I wasn’t like a neglected child, but my parents worked so much that it just happened that way. One of the movies I constantly watched was “Rocky”, I must have watched it like every other day.  When I was 4 years old I remember making a little storyboard, I can’t remember what the story was about, but I was fascinated by the idea of making a movie out of pictures.  That’s when I remember thinking that I wanted to make movies.

Lizzie: I remember reading the script earlier this summer and really connecting with the character of Bianca. Can you tell me little bit about The Good Kind and how you developed the characters of the story? Why is the story important to you?

 Ofelia:  The story and both lead characters resonate not only with me, but with a lot of women’s personal coming out stories that I’ve heard throughout the years.  I think that both Natalia and Bianca have part of me in their personalities, and I think people will find this to be true for them as well, but I also see them as more symbolic as to what it feels like to come out altogether.  Natalia is the type that’s super proud to be out and might as well be waving a rainbow flag everywhere she goes, but she’s also very shy and inexperienced when it comes to hitting on girls, so she represents the excitement and newness of self discovery, but also the innocence.  Bianca is introverted and terrified at the idea of what will happen if she does come out, and she holds a guard up even against herself, so she is representative of all the fears and doubts that come with the struggle of accepting one’s self.  Now pair them together and you’re in for some surprises so tune in to watch the film!

Lizzie: Who has been your major influence as a writer?

Ofelia:  Definitely Adelina Anthony, she has been an amazing support and mentor. I admire her discipline as an artist, and I think she’s one of the greatest talents we have.  As a funny side story, she was actually my first roommate here in LA, she took me in without really knowing me (which I’m forever grateful for), but I definitely knew who she was, and apparently so did everybody in LA!  Every time I would mention who I lived with, people would look at me like I was a lying lunatic, do a double take, and then ask me what it was like living with her.  It was awesome!  Haha!  Now that I think about it maybe I should have used it to my advantage gotten some dates out of it!  Hmm.  But in all seriousness, she has been one of the only people who has really believed in me as an artist, and constantly encourages me to keep going even when it gets tough.  I love her because she’s not judgmental and she really takes the time to listen and understand fears, doubts, ideas, etc.  She’s genuine and selfless, and that’s hard to come by, so I feel very fortunate to have her as a mentor and a friend.  My dad has also been a big advocate for my writing. He always tells me, ‘when you’re sad, stressed, or homesick, just let your imagination fly and write whatever comes to mind.’  I love the idea of that.

Lizzie:  You’re in the middle of a kickstarter campaign for TGK. How has the process been for you and your team?

Ofelia: (smiles and laughs) I had no idea the process was going to be such an emotional roller coaster.  It’s been surprising in the sense that I’ve received very encouraging messages from complete strangers, who are now obviously a very big part of this journey thanks to their support.  But I’ve also gotten discouraging or questioning messages from people that I really thought would completely be on board, so it’s just taught me to accept people’s personal boundaries and not make assumptions.  I respect the fact that not everyone will be thrilled with the idea of supporting a gay-themed film, but the process of trying to make one has definitely been challenging and trying. I love it though, I’m learning so much and really enjoying every bit of it.

Lizzie: As an artist community support is always essential, particularly when it comes to raising funds for a project. What are some ways you have reached out to the community for that support, other than kickstarter?

Ofelia:  Besides Kickstarter, I have reached out to a lot of non-profit organizations, particularly Lesbian and gay organizations. I’ve actually had a similar experience with this to what I previously described with the supporter responses.  I see how some organizations are more than willing to promote such a project, while others have shied away for whatever reason, which is generally dismissed with a general response.  I think it’s kind of unfortunate because we already don’t count with much of mainstream media to stand behind gay stories when it comes to Latinos and people of color in general, so when organizations that promote themselves as serving this particular sector of the community shy away from our stories, then that creates an even bigger problem for how much support we’re really getting.

Lizzie: More often than not the queer latino voice is underrepresented in film and literature. As an artist how do you see yourself changing that underrepresentation?

Ofelia: Yes, definitely the queer Latino voice is underrepresented in film, but I think queer stories as a whole are underrepresented. There’s a lot of work to do, but I have faith that it will increase as time goes by and people approach it with courage.  In doing research I came across very few non-English films that dealt with sexuality and didn’t include stereotypes, but I was actually very happy to come across a film called ‘La Otra Familia’ that takes place in Mexico City and depicts a beautiful gay couple that takes in a kid as their own.  It was a sigh of relief to have this work being made in Mexico.

Lizzie: Community is defined differently by people, what does community mean to you? Why should people support your film?

Ofelia: Community means different things to different people, for sure.  To me it means supporting talent period.  It is about potential and encouraging that potential and each other as artists.  I was reminded by a few people that this work should not be about ego but about the importance of it and its potential for advancing and encouraging a conversation about things that are still kept in the dark.  It’s important to not be afraid to do something creative because of the subject matter, especially if you think it will benefit someone, whether that’s your family member, friend, neighborhood or entire country. Honestly, even if it’s just a young person somewhere that feels alone and then watches something that resonates with them, then we’ve done a good job at using our talents for a good purpose.

Why should people support The Good KindAgain, I’m aware that not everyone will be jumping at the chance to support a gay film, but for those that are comfortable doing so, I’m grateful to do the work if they’re willing to lend their support!  I believe in this story because I wished there had been something like it when I was younger, and I hope to provide it to someone out there that needs it.  I think it’s time that we start having these conversations, at the very least considering approaching them, and I also believe in the power of cinema to make those things happen.  It’s a beautiful thing when you can get a group of complete strangers that may not see eye to eye on absolutely anything, but can watch a story together and possibly share similar emotions and thoughts when they allow themselves to observe and take in a film.  If we have the good fortune to be able to make a film into a reality, then we should take responsibility and show our community something that will strike a chord and remind them that it’s time to progress for our own benefit.  If it pushes a button in people, then in my opinion it’s worth pursuing.  So yes, I encourage everyone to consider becoming a contributor/producer and donating any amount that they can.  If your situation is difficult, which I completely understand, then sharing it with someone who may be able to support is also of great help.  I look forward to presenting this film to everyone, so thank you for your support!

Lizzie: Okay, now for the fun questions. What are your top 5 favorite movies?

Ofelia: Rocky, Amorres Perros, Boys Don’t Cry, The Bird Cage, Y Tu Mamá También. (And as a bonus, ‘It’s Complicated.’)

Lizzie:  What is your favorite queer movie?

Ofelia: GIA. I have seen that movie like a hundred times! It was significant to me during a challenging time in my life because I related so much to her need for support and understanding. I think it does a beautiful job at showing vulnerability and what we sometimes confuse for confidence or cockiness, but is really a need for attention and love. And of course Angelina Jolie is amazing in it!

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I want to thank Ofelia for taking the time to let me interview her. If you can, please support The Good Kind by contributing some money or spreading the word on your Facebook, Twitter, or blogs. There’s 11 days left to the campaign, any amount counts. It’s time for our stories to shine on screen!  You can learn more about it by clicking on the links below:

Support The Good Kind:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/990663532/the-good-kind

Also “Like” on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/TheGoodKindMovie?ref=ts&fref=ts

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